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In Republican territory, UNT’s Connor Flanagan tries to win Texas House seat

In Republican territory, UNT’s Connor Flanagan tries to win Texas House seat

Connor Flanagan poses inside the UNT Union. Flanagan, a political science senior student at UNT, is running to become state representative of District 64 in Texas. Jennyfer Rodriguez

In Republican territory, UNT’s Connor Flanagan tries to win Texas House seat
November 08
09:20 2016

As November quickly approaches, all eyes are on the presidential election. But for one UNT student, November is much more significant.

The Democratic nominee for Texas House Representative District 64 is UNT political media arts senior Connor Flanagan, 22, who is going head-to-head against the Republican candidate, Sanger veterinarian Lynn Stucky, for the state seat.

The seat Flanagan is running for has been held by Republican for more than 20 years. People within his campaign even doubted the possibility that he could win. That was until Stucky’s campaign was hit with reports that, in 2011, he was put on probation by the Texas Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners for improperly giving medication.

Denton County is a branded as Republican territory. Flanagan’s appeal to conservatives here is that he isn’t as liberal as they might think.

“Talking to voters who don’t know who I am is hard because I have never done this before,” Flanagan said. “You either approach someone and they don’t know who you are or are hardcore Republican, and if they shut you down they shut you down. But it’s important to be positive.”

Flanagan, who will graduate from UNT in December, said that based on his research from previous elections, there are no other candidates who have a uniquely student-oriented appeal.

Denton County, home to two large public universities and a community college, houses many student voters whom Flanagan feels he can represent.

Since the primary election, Flanagan and his team have raised slightly more money, a step ahead from the self-funding days. Reports from the Texas Ethics Commission show Flanagan’s campaign is funded by a handful of small donations, totaling $600, and $2,000 of his own money, he said. More people are volunteering for the general election, too.

In March, Flanagan was up against Paul Greco in the primary election. The rivals became teammates. Shortly after Flanagan won the primary election, Greco approached him about becoming Flanagan’s campaign manager.

“He is very good at running for office, which I have no experience in,” Flanagan said. “He knows the area well and aspects of campaigning, which I don’t know very well either. He is helping me with the ins-and-outs of campaigning.”

As his campaign manager, Greco said, he and Flanagan are learning from each other.

“We didn’t have too many differences,” Greco said. “He’s smart, I like him, younger people like him. I think I’m the older version of Connor. He’s honest. Connor shows a lot more honest qualities than Stucky. I’m his confidence builder, especially since the Democratic party is rough on him.”

The Denton County Democratic Party House District 64 Club is an organization set up for Flanagan’s campaign and is made up of volunteers who help him run his campaign.

The club’s chairwoman, Christie Wood, coordinates block-walking and spreading the word about Flanagan’s campaign.

“It doesn’t matter what party you are a part of when we knock on your door, people are usually curious about Connor,” Wood said. “Now that [he] has won the primary election, his focus is on how he is different than the Republicans.”

Flanagan’s campaign has asked Stucky’s campaign to agree to a debate. A date might be confirmed for Tuesday, Oct. 18, campaign officials said. Stucky’s camp could not be reached for comment.

Greco, who like Flanagan never thought the victory would go to his opponent, thinks Flanagan knows what he’s talking about when it comes to politics and thinks he can get Republicans on his side.

“My friends who are voting for Connor don’t like Stucky’s non-separation of church and state,” Greco said. “I don’t think people who were voting for Rick Hagan will vote Connor because they are more a part of the Tea Party, but I think there will be a few Stucky voters voting for Connor. It’s incredible what he’s doing for his age, and he’s doing it great.”

In a debate, Flanagan said, he would focus largely on roles of public policy and the importance of separation of church and state, as well as look into the future for millennials.

Wood said she thinks Flanagan will bring much needed fresh ideas to the Texas House.

“I am happy there is a younger person running for this spot,” Wood. “There are a lot of old ideas. He wants local control and a better Denton, and I am excited for him.”

Come November, if he doesn’t win this election, Flanagan said it will only motivate him to run again and only sees himself in a future filled with politics.

“For a lot of people who want to run for office one day, you have to just do it,” Flanagan said. “If it’s something you want to do, you’ve gotta just go out and do it. If you fail, then people will know you more. My dad for his entire life said he wanted to do this, but kept putting it off. I decided to do it now and just get out and do it. If I lose, there is no chance in hell I won’t run for something again. I’ll definitely run again.”

Featured Image: Connor Flanagan poses inside the UNT Union. Flanagan, a political science senior student at UNT, is running to become state representative of District 64 in Texas. Jennyfer Rodriguez

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Julia Falcon

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